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Wolverine Film Scanner VS all other cameras - real resolution (sort of) revealed

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  • Wolverine Film Scanner VS all other cameras - real resolution (sort of) revealed

    I once have a chance to play around with that infamous Wolverine Scanner (rebadged as Reflectra) sent in for evaluation. It was a non-pro version with 200ft reel capacity but with later firmware capable of outputting Full HD resolution and 20fps.

    Long story short - not impressed at all. Luckily it's my customer's not mine. I later returned it to him, wiped out the folder containing all resultant files and completely forgot about that.

    Recently I just found my "test reel" file from this scanner still tucked somewhere else in my PC. Out of curiosity I dug out that very same reel, and have it scanned with my other (DIY) setups either in current use or still in developing stage. Then compare the work side-by-side in the editing program.

    The result is, well, very revealing.
    Essentially the Wolverine's output resolution is NOT in Full HD - far from that.

    Here are screenshots, all resized to 1920*1080 & color corrected to match together as best as I could. Be reminded to click the image to view the full-size version.

    Let's start with the Wolverine itself. Notice thick black bar around the image - more about that later.
    Click image for larger version

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    Without comparison this might seems just kinda OK, exactly what to expect from a 300$-ish toy.

    Now with the very same frame, captured by a relatively "outdated" digital mirrorless camera - namely Panasonic DMC-G7 (bought 2nd hand for about 300$ too).
    Click image for larger version

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    Although it is just a work-in-progress setup and there are still LOTS of room for improvements. But the difference is already too great to ignore.

    Well if that is too far apart, let's change to something less elaborate.

    Moving down to (OK don't laugh) 20 years old SD resolution miniDV camcorder - Sony TRV950. It's not impossible to find this kind of stuff in garage sales/flea market for 10-30$. Bought mine for 12-15$ if my memory is correct (dead tape transport, but that doesn't matter).
    Click image for larger version

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    To my eyes this is EXACTLY the same resolution/detail as that wolverine scanner. But notice the highlight & shadow handling - little to no blown out highlight/crushed black area to be found. The color isn't as overly saturated as Wolverine also. These 2 things combined make it more practical for later color correction.

    Now moving the scale down to the bottom end.

    Here is the capture from a cheap analog cctv camera bought for less than 30$. The lowest end (board camera, no housing whatsoever included) would be about half that price.
    Click image for larger version

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    This is the only camera I have that is of less resolution than Wolverine's - still very neck-to-neck however. Due to its small form factor it can be made to simply slide into the projector's lens barrel, relatively convenient to setup. If outputting to SD (or even 720p) resolution this would work just fine. I bet that hardly anybody would complain.

    Some might already figured out the thick black bar in Wolverine's screenshot. But for the sake of completeness this is the Wolverine's screenshot overlaid on digital camera's screenshot.
    Click image for larger version

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    By default settings the Wolverine will crop out as much of the picture as this. Anyone using this scanner this is the very first setting that needed to be changed. Better set to slightly "underscan" just enough to see framelines on all sides and trim it later in the editing program, rather than chopping out about 40% of the real estate like this.

    What you don't see in this still image is the overall brightness fluctuation/variation in times. The resultant file will almost always look "flickerly" somewhat. I suspect that might due to its auto exposure function causing the brightness to keep "dancing" around. Combine that with always-Auto White Balance would make it very difficult to do any level & color correction later.

    At the time I returned that unit to the owner I still have some interest in this unit left. But after this comparison that interest is totally gone.
    For others it might suit their requirement perfectly. But sorry - it does not tick enough box in my checklist to qualify.

    I can now firmly set my route - optimizing my digital camera's setup for Full HD/2K scan, and that cheap analog camera for low end/quick and dirty job. This should cover all requirements my customers ever asked.

    Upon completion of my digital camera's setup I might have a new post revealing its all detail later. Better wait and see...

  • #2
    Good work Nantawat. What lens did you use with your Panasonic and did you use any sharpening?


    • #3
      Probably the 14-140mm ones. And no sharpening applied. I might try capturing at higher resolution later and see if there's any improvements.


      • #4
        Very interesting discovery. I have owned 2 Wolverines now, the second one being the Pro version. On both versions I've found i have to set the sharpness to low every time i turn it on, even if its already set to low. I have to go into the setting change it back to it's default setting (medium) exit the menu and then go back into the menu to set it to low. If i don't do this the sharpness will be too much. I thought they would of fixed this in the Pro version. Nope.